Reading words written between 700BC and 600AD should be a real experience and a cause of wonder. IT IS !!!! ....because they are as fresh as if they, h...more Reading words written between 700BC and 600AD should be a real experience and a cause of wonder. IT IS !!!! ....because they are as fresh as if they, had been written yesterday!!These poems range from the bawdy to the tragic. It's all here: Lust, regret, sorrow, love of nature, politics, war, heroics, humour, religion, romance, animals, food, eulogies, even a poem on the invention of glass!!!! Externals in dress,weapons,architecture etc may have altered but the basics of human nature have never altered. These poets touch you.
Sherod Santos has done a brilliant translation of about 154 poems from The Greek Anthology, the one thousand year old collection of 4000 poems from the Greek-speaking world.
Unfortunately poetry scares many people, but pop song lyrics ARE poetry and look how we LOVE those. Broaden your love-affair with the poets. They get to the essence of all that stuff we like or love to hate: politicians, war , love, sex, food. YUMMY! (less)
Because I was so enjoying Greek Lyric Poetry by Sherod Santos which has a fresh translation of 154 poems from The Greek Anthology, I decided to rerea...more Because I was so enjoying Greek Lyric Poetry by Sherod Santos which has a fresh translation of 154 poems from The Greek Anthology, I decided to reread my Penguin copy which contains about 850 poems with translations from over 40 distinguished British and American poets.The original collection was made over 1000 years ago and contains 4000 poems drawn from all over the Greek-speaking world.
POETRY....YUK!!!! No, here as fresh as today's baked bread are epitaphs, jokes, satires, poems of love, lust and friendship. ALL very very enjoyable, usually brief and grabbing the essence. You'll LOVE it all.
BUT........read this before the Sherod Santos translation!! These are great but Santos translations are nothing short of BRILLIANT!!! You will get a real insight into the art of translation and NEVER feel wholly comfortable again reading a favourite foreign writer.(less)
I've been dipping into these for the last several years - easy when you keep a copy by the bed, a tiny volume, pale blue with gold lettering, I bought...moreI've been dipping into these for the last several years - easy when you keep a copy by the bed, a tiny volume, pale blue with gold lettering, I bought at Shakespeare's house in Stratford...well, where else does one go to purchase one's Shakespeare???
Also, I have handy a book of Monarch Notes - A Critical Guide to Appreciation of Meaning, Form and Style ( the wee book of sonnets lives inside it at the exact sonnet next to be read!) because there are bits I just DON'T understand, and bits I'm not sure of eg.is this a love sonnet to a bloke?? and bits where I simply do NOT agree with the Monarch, but great to have someone else to bounce off!!And bits that I have to reread because they are so so beautifully phrased and/or economically put.
My only GREAT sadness is I would LOVE to be able to recite them off by heart to myself.
This particular piece I love, which is not a sonnet,and which was not included in the other two little volumes,( yes, I have been shopping at Willy's old home more than once!!!) ... one yellow: The Stratford Shakespeare Anthology, the other green: A Shakespeare Treasury containing titled gems from the plays. ... it goes thus: A SEA - CHANGE Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes: Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong. Hark! now I hear them, - Ding-dong, bell. (The Tempest)
I photocopied this from a copy of the play and stuck it into the last page of the little green volume.AND stuck another on the cupboard in my classroom because I could never remember it. Try it. It IS hard isn't it!!??
The little books were edited and selected by the Director of Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust, the wonderfully named Levi Fox.
You never ever quite finish with a book of poetry. It is always waiting to be dipped into...always. Like old friends, a reunion is always on the cards...moreYou never ever quite finish with a book of poetry. It is always waiting to be dipped into...always. Like old friends, a reunion is always on the cards and always a pleasure.
You go to poets or write poetry to get questions answered or to see the questions perfectly put. Or for some clarification. Not surprisingly, I was tempted to put the poetry books on the philosophy shelf. But they do deserve a shelf of their own.
Sadly many people don't feel comfortable around poetry.It makes me frustrated, the way you get with people who won't go and see a doctor. Poets tend you and heal you when you didn't even know you were ailing. They can also needle you, just like a bloody doctor. Provoke you and make you take medicine you'd rather not, but of course it all helps in the long run.
Today poetry is ever-present in the lyrics of songs. The music is like the sugar that helps the medicine go down.
I met Constantine Cavafy close to home...his home, not mine. He was an Alexandrian Greek and I was living in Athens at that time teaching English. One of my students gave me the copy I still treasure. Probably thought I needed it. I did. Here was something I didn't know I needed - a refreshing, open and honest way of writing that I had never experienced with a poet before. Cavafy offered me a piece of himself, as all good friends do, which I used when I finally found a real need to express myself in poetry.
His poems were also on topics that resonated with me - poems about history, resignation, acceptance of life, frustrated passions, loss, the comfort of memory and...love. They were intelligent and lucid and did not hold back, readily confronting pain and Life's realities. They were strong potions. Alone in a foreign land I drank deep.
Often friends find you, as Cavafy came to me, unbidden.Often you have to cast your net wide, browse, re-meet a few times before you are sure; sometimes its love at first sight! Enjoy your poets when you find them!!
I prayed to God for aid and answers; But one day found his ears upon the ground.
I sought counsel from the immutable stars; But then saw one falling from the sky.
I looked for a plan in the lines of my hand; But it only increased the lines on my brow.
Then Tarot cards came to hand; But they only dealt in riddles and rhymes.
I played with the I Ching; But got distracted playing fiddlesticks.
I turned to poetry in desperation; And found only all my questions perfectly put.
Now I write poetry.
New Year's Day, 1985.
That's from me...now a gem from Cavafy:
I'd like to speak of this memory, but it's so faded now - as though nothing's left because it was so long ago, in my adolescent years.
A skin as though of jasmine... that August evening - was it August? - I can still just recall the eyes: blue, I think they were... Ah yes, blue: a sapphire blue.
I really tried to give this at least TWO stars, but when you're really glad you have finished a book I think that's a pretty good indication of the st...moreI really tried to give this at least TWO stars, but when you're really glad you have finished a book I think that's a pretty good indication of the star rating.
Perhaps it might be thought that a poetry book should be read in small bites?? Yes, much poetry is dense in terms of compacted thoughts and image and metaphor. After reading one Shakespeare sonnet(reviewed) one has to gasp for breath. (What was that semi-trailer that just passed over me!??!!) An immediate reread is necessary. The syntax(word order) is often a challenge in itself. But here, with Robert Louis, small bites came from an overdose of cloying sentimentality. A glucose overdose is NOT healthy!! And hence the poems lacked real substance. I can appreciate that for many this book was a lovely walk down Memory Lane. And I love that with A.A.Milne's "When We Were Very Young" (reviewed) and even taught them. As I have poems from "A Child's Garden". But not to the exclusion of modern poems for children. So I hope all fans do spread their wings!!
Found a few old friends here in Louis' Garden, some I had no idea were penned by Robert Louis. These I had read in anthologies or isolated in story books and so much easier to digest. BUT to sit down and plough through a whole cloying, sentimental volume was just more than could be expected of anyone's digestive system. I needed a spoonful of medicine (metaphor for Reality) to help the sugar go down!!!! and there was none in sight.
I have taught thousands of children and I don't think I have ever encountered a child like this!! "This" turns out to be a construct of himself as a child created wearing rose-coloured glasses - ill and privileged middle class, but with all the negative aspects of what it was really like to live ill and cut off whitewashed out. The archaic language added to the alienation, whereas usually I enjoy such a shift in style and vocabulary. Happily some very nice moments, but too much 'Niceness" in the end.
I am now seeking refuge and recovery with an injection of Ted Hughes in his "Collected Poems for Children." However Hughes is writing 'for' and 'about' children, where Stevenson wrote exclusively 'about' children, or 'as' a child or once-child. Roald Dahl's children's verses may be another sedative!!
My edition of "A Child's Garden" is a Collins hardback publication printed in the UK in 1946 with illustrations by A.H.Watson which are very nice but a bit too derivative of E.H.Shepard who did the A.A.Milne books of the 1920's. (less)
I am dying to reread this book. A fellow teacher loaned it to me several years ago and I have never forgotten the experience of these dark, cruel, vi...more I am dying to reread this book. A fellow teacher loaned it to me several years ago and I have never forgotten the experience of these dark, cruel, violent,bizarre,clever,funny, unexpected poems.I expected to be finally bored, wondering for just how long Hughes could sustain this persona, this line he had chosen to take...and he never let up, never disappointed. It just rolled on, poem after poem after poem.
I realise I have never quite recovered from it. I want to test the waters again and just see if it works a second time. Was it just novelty that grabbed me? It's either going to be a BIG BIG BIG disappointment or a re-addiction. WATCH THIS SPACE FOR A POSSIBLE EXPLOSION!!! (less)
Have just added two new shelves to this poetry gem - Memoirs-biography and Movie-Seen-As-Well. "Reaching For The Moon",...moreSECOND REVIEW and REREAD - 2014
Have just added two new shelves to this poetry gem - Memoirs-biography and Movie-Seen-As-Well. "Reaching For The Moon", the film of Elizabeth Bishop's meeting with the architect Lota de Macedo in Brazil just released here in Sydney last week. And that makes for a Capital Reason to reread this Favourite; and hopefully lead onto her Collected Works for at least SOME dipping !
FIRST REVIEW and REREAD - 2008.
A little unexpected gem sent to me in 1983 for Xmas by my super-poetic Canadian mate Norma, God bless her, and which has always remained a favourite.It contains "One Art" which I have always regretted not having written myself and so grateful that Elizabeth did it so much better than I ever could have managed!!! It begins: The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Now why would I spoil it by completing this tale of Losses Profound, all done with a shrug and the lightest of touches. Yet the very last line shows she is heroic!!!!
I went out and bought the complete works after this. (less)
I couldn't decide which translation to buy - the Penguin or the Oxford. So I bought both and read them simultaneously!!! What an idiot!! What an effort!...moreI couldn't decide which translation to buy - the Penguin or the Oxford. So I bought both and read them simultaneously!!! What an idiot!! What an effort!!! What a delight !! What an education in the art of translation!!! No one told me this tragedy was going to be...funny!!Amusing!!Witty!! I still don't get it but boy! did I enjoy it. Novels in verse I have NEVER gone near. But I am MAD about Tchaikovsky's opera of this verse-novel. Now THAT is TRAGEDY!! I think poor old Tchai was a disaster waiting to happen ..so that's what he gives you. Great stuff. And those 3 ethereal ballets!!To die for!!But I stray. Pushkin is another Russian altogether. And thus so is HIS Onegin.It is truly wonderful. A masterpiece. Get it and relish before the End of the World, which I hear is just around the corner.
November 1st, 2013. MORE REFLECTION:
I had the opportunity to see a filmed Metropolitan version of "Eugene Onegin" yesterday with Anna Netrebko (Russian) as Tatiana and Mariusz Kwiecien (Polish) as Onegin.Only two of a fine cast. Tchaikovsky did not have to dig very deeply to summon up his tone of melancholy. It was a TOTAL indulgence and made me realise that for me OPERA is the pinnacle of the Arts when it can pull it off, which happily is often.
It sent me back to Pushkin when I arrived home and again today. I particularly wanted to reread the letter scene where Tatiana writes to Onegin to tell him she has fallen in love with him, bravely, honestly and passionately baring her innermost soul to him. And his response also interested me. His response, which is really a very flattering rejection, is also honest and caring, warning her about being aware of the risk of being too open with strangers as she may get hurt. He admits that she is someone he loves but marriage would be a disaster for them because of him. Being like a brother is what he chooses. The librettist was true to the plot and the words of the poem.
However there is not an ounce of Pushkin's humour. Which also works. There is no narrator as there is in the poem, which I think would overload the opera. I found I prefer the opera to the poem...but certainly appreciate them both. Pushkin's canvas is much broader than the opera could manage.
Lucky to have these GREAT Russians...in music, poetry and song. AND a host of nationalities that helped to create this production !!!! If only the World could always be so happily and productively Multicultural!!! (less)
Ages 5 to 9!!!??? Balderdash. I've been reading this book ever since my older sister Di and I discovered it in our Nana's bookcase in the early 1950's.W...moreAges 5 to 9!!!??? Balderdash. I've been reading this book ever since my older sister Di and I discovered it in our Nana's bookcase in the early 1950's.We eventually knew just about every poem off by heart, not because we set out to achieve this noble task but merely because we just read the poems over and over and over again, delighting in their rhythms and rhymes and subjects.
This is a 1938 edition. Pre World War Two. And post Edward and Mrs Simpson. It actually looks as though it may have been blitzed a few times in WWII. But in fact it has just been thoroughly loved to near destruction by three children who were introduced by it into the Magic World of Poetry. It still bears Dianne's name which she neatly inscribed on the inside cover. And our little sister Janie applied scribble on a title page with red colouring-in pencil Such were the claims of love and possession. Later I taught many of the poems to my classes.
Now if this isn't enough to make you rush out and purchase a copy of this little gem for yourself, then consider yourself a Lost Soul!!Yes, perhaps it may appear dated today, but THAT is precisely part of its charm. And the now famous illustrations by Ernest Shepard are a delight. (less)